Apple is set to push its paid-for Beats Music service onto all iPhones — the latest in a series of uninvited arrivals on iPhones and a step towards answering why Apple paid so much for the headphone maker.
The service will be pushed onto iPhones with a new update sometime in 2015, reports the FT.
Beats Music was bought for $3 billion in May, prompting many to question what Apple planned to do with the service, and offers a subscription model similar to Spotify but sells itself on its curation.
The app has yet to find the success of some of its peers, with most estimates putting its total users around 100,000, around 100 times fewer customers than Spotify. iTunes has around 200m customers.
Beats Music will continue to be a paid service — at the moment, the download is free but a subscription costs $9.99 for a month or $99.99 for a year.
Apple offers its own streaming music services in iTunes Match and iTunes Radio. That is also a paid service, with subscriptions starting at £21.99, though there is a free version of iTunes Radio that is interrupted by ads.
iTunes Radio has not pushed as many people into buying songs from iTunes as it had hoped, according to reports, and the move will represent Apple’s first real foray into subscription music as digital purchases are tumbling.
The move comes as the battle for streaming music domination is hotting up, with YouTube launching a paid subscription service and the model coming under fire from artists such as Taylor Swift.
Both iTunes Radio and Beats Music are yet to launch in the UK, having only launched in the US and Australia. The company said that it would be released internationally in early 2014, but there has been little sign of the service.
Other apps, such as Podcasts and iBooks, were once optional downloads but now come bundled with iOS.
But the update might remind other users of Apple’s recent U2 PR disaster, where it pushed the band’s new album to user’s phones without asking them, many of whom then requested to have it removed. The company had to release a ‘U2 album removal tool’, but the incident served as a reminder for many that Apple can make changes to anyone’s phone at any time.
Some commentators speculated that the update could arrive alongside the Apple Watch, which is expected to launch in Spring 2015 and will be able to play music through Beats Music on an iPhone.